Not only do you have every right to interview agents before committing to them, you absolutely should because it’s simply a wise thing to do. This is true even if you’ve used them before or they’re a friend. I know, I know… we feel guilty even considering not using these kinds of connections, but hear me out.
Selling a house is a HUGE financial decision that should be handled by a professional who’s going to give you the best client service as well as maximize your profit or savings. Doing favors for people and being loyal are great things… but not at the expense of your financial well-being. I’m not saying don’t use these people, just make sure they truly are your best option.
To help you interview agents, here are some important questions to ask. I’ll skip the typical questions like, “How long have you been in real estate?” and “What’s your commission?” I want to give you some ideas of questions to ask that you might not have thought of so you can really differentiate who will be a good fit for you.
- What’s your schedule and availability?
Some real estate agents work other jobs, and so they’re availability is going to be more limited if they only do real estate part-time. It’s not uncommon in the selling process for something urgent to come up that needs attention and you’ll want an agent who is available.
- How will you keep in touch with me during the selling process and how often?
Everyone has preferences for how they communicate. Does the agent primarily use phone, email, or text? How often do they touch base with clients? It’s frustrating and stressful to feel like you’re in the dark, so good communication is key. Weekly should be the minimum as a general rule, but during critical points in the process, daily is completely reasonable. Can you guys agree on what type and level of communication is most comfortable to you?
- What sets you apart from other agents?
Agents tend to have areas of specialty, whether it’s types of homes or certain neighborhoods or construction knowledge. An agent’s specialty might be exactly what you need.
- Tell me about your most challenging clients and how you managed working with them.
This question is important for several reasons, besides the fact that you’ll probably hear a good story! It will reveal not only how the agent handled a challenge, but also something about the agent’s character. Listen carefully to how they talk about the client—it can be honest but should still be professional. Speaking badly about the client ought to be a deal-breaker. Your best bet is to find an agent who is professional, patient, and adaptable to a variety of people and situations. A sense of humor never hurts, either, in my opinion!
- How can you help me fit showing my house into my busy schedule?
Showing your house can be time consuming since it means keeping things clean and leaving the property while buyers come take a look. Does the agent have strategies to help make it as efficient and hassle-free for you as possible?
- Do I have to sign a contract and can I cancel without a penalty?
It’s typical for an agent to have you sign an exclusive listing agreement which lasts for a specified period of time. However, you should be able to get out of the agreement at any time without having to pay any fees!
- Can I get a list of references?
Talking to an agent’s previous clients can tell you a lot about them. Also, it would be very telling if an agent refused to give you any references, and anyone that won’t provide references should be a hard pass.
I really hope that these questions are helpful, and I would love the opportunity to answer them myself. Please email, text, or call if you’re ready to talk about whether I would be the perfect agent to help you sell your home for the highest possible price.
All the best,
Ian Van Kooten, REALTOR
“It’s good to be home.”